The final score at this year’s Blachford Tax Law Charity Game was 16-6, but who’s keeping count? Only the 28 softball players, seeing as how most of them work as chartered professional accountants, and we know how they feel about numbers.
They met at the RA Centre on Wednesday to participate in the annual softball game hosted by Ottawa tax dispute resolution and litigation lawyer Dean Blachford. It was such a nice hot summer day to be away from the office and outdoors playing ball in support of some worthy causes. In fact, there’s never been so much as a drop of rain at Blachford’s charity event, which was celebrating its 5th anniversary.
The seven-inning game attracted its largest crowd to date with some 30 spectators. It was a fast-paced, fun and competitive game.
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Helping the game to run smoothly and fairly was Robin Kerr as umpire. Priya Bhaloo, COO of recruitment agency TAG HR, volunteered as the player announcer. TAG HR was a sponsor, along with Accountancy Insurance (Audit Shield), Sun Life’s DC Foresight Financial Services and Exponent Investment Management.
Keeping score that day was retired BDO Canada partner Robert Rhéaume. As if the guy doesn’t have enough to do. He serves on the board of five local non-profit organizations. But, Rhéaume wanted to help.
Participants and fans enjoyed some great summer vibes thanks to the return of DJ Cédric Colas. He played catchy tunes before the game and between innings, as well as ballpark organ music oldies (just like at Wrigley Field).
As for food and refreshments, there were bags of Cracker Jack, the molasses-flavoured, caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts treat, iconic pouches of Big League Chew bubble gum, and sports drinks to keep everyone hydrated.
It takes considerable time and effort for Blachford to pull the game together each year. He couldn’t do it, he acknowledged, without his law clerk and office controller, Ella Sui. And while most of the players are from the tax and accounting world, Blachford’s partner, Stephanie Talsma, is the exception. She works for Canadian Women and Sport and was one of 10 female players to bat and field this year.
The teams were trying to win $5,000 for their charity of choice. Team Green captain Gilles Roy, a partner at BDO Canada, selected the Ottawa Food Bank. Team White captain Mary Ellen Durkee, a senior accountant at Parker Prins Lebano Chartered Professional Accountants, chose her former employer, the Canadian Council of the Blind. It works to prevent vision loss and improve the quality of life for those with vision loss, executive director Jim Prowse told his audience.
Players heard from the Ottawa Food Bank’s development manager, Jessica Robson, about what an “incredibly challenging year” it’s been for her organization due to a 40-per-cent increase in the need for services. “Forty per cent,” Robson repeated. “That is an astronomical number.”
The Ottawa Food Bank has been helping people “who never imagined they would need to use a food bank,” said Robson.
The organization has also seen a huge rise in its food purchase budget due to the soaring cost of food and the “unprecedented” number of people visiting the Food Bank’s network of food agencies across the city. “We’re on track to see over half a million (visits).
“These are not just numbers. These are individuals, families, seniors. These are children who live right here in Ottawa.”
Team Green won, but no charity was sent home empty-handed thanks to a number of organizations and individuals who chipped in extra money, including Video Tax News ($1,000), Parker Prins Lebano ($500), BDO ($1,000), ADAMS and Associates ($1,000), retired Tax Court of Canada judge Cameron McArthur and his wife, Jacline McArthur ($1,000), Welch LLP ($500), and Helen Ge CPA ($500).
The donations allowed the teams to donate $5,500 to the Ottawa Food Bank and $5,000 to the Canadian Council of the Blind.
The entire eight-person team from ADAMS and Associates was at the softball game that day. Two of its staff members, Amanda Daly and Brittany Smith, were playing for their first time while the rest of its office, based in Kars, was there to cheer them on. “It was awesome; I had such a great time,” Daly, who’s a CPA, told OBJ.social later. “I hadn’t played ball in six years, so it was nice to play again. It was also fun to interact with other people.”
Another first-time player, Matisse Touchard from Logan Katz, told OBJ.social he’d always wanted to play in Blachford’s softball game. He happened to notice, while scrolling through LinkedIn, that Blachford was still looking for players from some of the local accounting firms, including the one he works for. He volunteered, and was so glad he did.
“It was a blast,” Touchard said at the beer and pizza party held afterward at the nearby Hometown Sports Grill on Bank Street, where everybody’s tab was covered by the sponsors.